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Children’s Social-Emotional Development

There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. While we know this is an overstatement, there is truth in the upbringing of the human race. Children who attend daycare have certain advantages over children who stay at home all day with a parent. There are exceptions, but early childhood education helps them with social-emotional development, helping them later in life to adjust to situations. Here are the reasons why early childhood daycares help children’s behavior and emotional intelligence.


Children begin to socialize around the age of two. By this age, children have (hopefully) learned to trust caretakers and start developing a sense of autonomy and self-belief. Developing autonomy includes a child controlling their bodily function and making their own decisions concerning their behavior. Through trial and error, a child will learn how their actions affect the world around them. In a healthy environment, caretakers will administer consequences without bias.

Children Controlled Environment

For example, a child will learn that roughhousing can result in pain (bumping heads), a redirection (a toy disappearing), or emotional distress (a teacher is not smiling). The caretaker need only be there for direction and safety. In a quality daycare, caretakers don’t need to shout. A teacher should never tease, neglect, ostracize, criticize the child themself, or physically cause pain. The trained caretaker knows that by using everyday facial expressions, putting their hand out, or blocking the child from the activity, the child will register that this choice is not desirable. Every child is different. A docile child may feel discomfort from a serious face, while a willful child may need redirection. Children who receive praise for good behaviors, redirection for undesirable behaviors, and the ability to make choices in a controlled environment will be able to think for themselves without lifelong control from others.

Behaviors that are acceptable at home are not necessarily acceptable outside the home. Going to daycare also encourages children to potty train. Even if a child doesn’t remember, experiences from early childhood shape their social-emotional development. Placing them in daycare prepares them for traditional schooling, making friends, behaving in public as adults, and controlling their emotions.

Development of Initiative

During the autonomy phase (one to three years of age), children choose actions and learn the consequences of those actions. After the development of autonomy begins, so does the development of their sense of initiative. In both stages (autonomy and initiative) they are learning to socialize. A child’s initiative is encouraged through incentives. Children begin to realize they can receive incentives for excelling in their behaviors. An incentive is anything positive that results in the child choosing desirable or exceptional behaviors. Incentives will come from the teacher, mental stimulation, creativity, a sense of accomplishment, or positive friendships. A quality daycare will recognize the good behaviors and extra effort of the child. This helps children develop personal initiative.


Since children begin socializing around the age of two, they will learn the world does not revolve around them. Children in daycare learn to interact with others and build confidence in themselves. They will meet children from different walks of life, and learn what behaviors are universally acceptable. Children who play with others will also learn to enjoy the presence of others. Socializing helps children solidify etiquette and meaningful relationships. Socializing with a group of children they are not related to consistently will assist them in making friends in elementary school and life. Families are responsible for helping their children control their emotions and build emotional intelligence, but socializing allows children to put their social-emotional development to the test.

Children’s development hinges not only on the family but on relationships outside of the home. By allowing your child to start in a good daycare around the age of 2, you allow them a chance to improve their behaviors, develop emotional intelligence, and have a headstart at education.


Social Skill Development | Peer Interaction | CerebralPalsy.orgCerebralPalsy.org
Know What To Expect! The 8 Stages Of Social Development In Children (childdevelopmentinfo.com)
Initiative vs. Guilt: Psychosocial Stage 3 (verywellmind.com)
The Benefits of Socialization for Children in Daycare (horizoneducationcenters.org)